Phind out Phriday: W is for....The Whimsical, the Wonderful, the Wendy Wolf

I was waiting to meet a friend for tea at the Green Line Café on Locust Street in West Philly. While I waited for both my tea and friend my eyes roamed the walls scanning the pictures in various sizes that adorned the once naked space.  As I wondered to myself who the artist was my eyes fell to the counter where my change lay for me to gather it and came across a chic stack of business cards. These cards belonged to none other than the café 's artist of the month, Wendy Wolf.

I grabbed her card and sent an email and within about a week I was in her studio on 9th and spring garden I awe of all that she does and wasn’t captured in frames at the cafe on Locust Street.

Phreedum: How long have you been creating the kinds of pieces that were at the Green Line and are here in your studio?

WW: I was always into art. I went to Alfred University in New York for undergrad for ceramics. I went to Tyler School of Art here in Philly for graduate school and received my MFA with a concentration in print making.  I really wanted to teach art and that was a huge reason for my going to grad school. I figured a graduate degree and teaching would provide the security that being an artist does not traditionally provide.  I graduated grad school and started a job, not teaching, but a pay the bills and remotely close to my line of work job, and I wasn’t happy. And I wasn’t thrilled with printmaking. In fact since graduating in 2005 I have made one print. In 2006 I came to rent this studio space here and started creating the pieces you saw at the café and see hanging here.  I enjoy painting.  I enjoy making art out of differ raw and not so raw materials.  Recently I’ve enjoyed making jewelry.

Phreedum: What would you consider to be a highlight for you as an artist?

WW: I make art that people fall in love with and it’s not just something they want to hang over their couch to take up an awkward blank space. I had a show at the Green Line Café a few years ago and the owner’s son who must have been about 10 at the time kept eyeing a piece that I did. His dad said he would ask almost every day if the piece was still there and if anyone bought it. Finally, before the how was over the boy used his own money to buy it.  A kid stalked and bought my work because he fell in love with it. It spoke to him; he saw it as an extension of himself. If that’s not a highlight I don’t know what is.

Phreedum: What has been a memorable lesson you’ve learned as creative independent?

WW: Pretty much every year around tax time I am reminded that I am so not a business person but am an artist.  I really have and continue to work on cultivating being business savvy.  I would also say that I have learned the importance of follow through.  I have missed out on several opportunities due to my own lack of follow through.   

Phreedum: What inspires you and keeps you motivated?

WW: My tag line is “Obsessive and repetitive artwork inspired by languages and leaves.” The paintings that have the marks, those marks used to be words at one point. I would take the words and then just make marks. Dot after dot, allowing me to let go of the finished product and someone else to see it. Interpret it as they will, ad own t for themselves.

The leaf work that you see in my art came about from a residency that I got to be a part of. I fell in love with implementing nature into my work. I didn’t want to hybrid the two however. You won’t see leaves composed of dots.  

I also work on many projects at once. If I focus on one thing spontaneity doesn’t rule and spontaneity is a creative person’s best friend.

Phreedum: What are some of the sacrifices that come with being a creative independent?

WW: For the most part, any “extra” anything. Extra time ad money tends to go to my work. I rarely get to socialize. I mean I try to make time, and sometimes it kind doubles as work and play because I socialize with other artists so I get feedback or we talk about things and I get new ideas, and I make time for my significant other. But that’s about it. I’ve even sacrificed my health.

My eyes pop out.

WW: I’m not saying one should. But I had thyroid cancer and I know that some of the materials I used, especially the wax, exacerbated the condition.  But yeah I think time and money are the biggest sacrifices. I call my work as an artist a “mean little mistress.” I love it and want it to be my primary source of income, just like one often loves their mistress and at some point the mistress becomes the primary person to bring fulfillment to one’s life.

Phreedum: How does your work change the lives of others?

WW: I don’t know if I change lives but I do believe I create moments that sustain lives. I did an installment at the Perlman Center here in Philadelphia, a center for patients with various health issues such as cancer. I remember being told that a cancer patient saw my work and that it just added to their day. They identified with the marks, the separation of them yet the meaning and the marks creating a whole piece of art. They found beauty in being broken. As a cancer survivor, you have to find beauty in what feels and is a pretty broken state.

Phreedum: What advice do you have for other creative independents?

WW: Trust your instinct. If you have a new idea, try it. The worse that could happen is it’s not what you intended. The best that could happen is that it’s more than what you dreamed it could have been. Start it, nurture it, and let it grow.

For more information about Wendy Wolf and her art work visit

No comments: